Two African women harvesting a crop

Achieving Sustainable Food Systems in a Global Crisis

Expanding the original scope of the Ceres2030 project, this initiative focused on the interrelationships between food systems, climate change, and diets. The results provided options for country-level transition pathways toward sustainable food systems in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Nigeria.

Can we move beyond hunger and provide affordable, healthy diets to all in a sustainable way?

To help answer this question, IISD and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) took a deep dive into the nexus of food systems, climate change, and nutrition in three African countries: Ethiopia, Malawi, and Nigeria. This project built on the work done in Ceres2030: Sustainable Solutions to End Hunger and sought to unpack how we can influence consumption patterns through policy interventions that will lead to better environmental and nutritional outcomes. More specifically, we explored how to improve nutritional outcomes through affordable, healthy diets while using a more climate-resilient production system with fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

The development dynamics and needs of low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Africa, involve an increase in food consumption and production to address the nutritional requirements of their populations. This must be done while ensuring the environmental sustainability and resilience of their agricultural practices.

Currently, none of the studied countries is on track to achieve the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Challenges in attaining these goals are exacerbated by skyrocketing food, fertilizer, and energy prices; the Russian invasion of Ukraine; the COVID-19 pandemic; and climate change—and in the case of Ethiopia, the conflict in Tigray. To get back on track to achieving the SDGs, policy pathways must favour synergies and limit the trade-offs between climate change, food systems, and nutrition. 

This project sought to build the evidence base for how food systems can be transformed to sustainably provide affordable, healthy diets for all while building on the models and data collected by the Ceres2030 project and extending our understanding of consumer preferences. For each country under study, we provided an evidence-based and costed country roadmap for effective public interventions to transform agriculture and food systems in a way that ends hunger, makes diets healthier and more affordable, improves the productivity and incomes of small-scale producers and their households, and mitigates and adapts to climate change.

The project had three components:

  1. A trade-off modelling and costing exercise to deliver a price tag for public spending and the donor contributions associated with the different projected pathways for each country.  
  2. Food demand behaviour at the household level to understand the drivers shaping food demand at the household level and their nutritional implications, including defining what constitutes a healthy diet and identifying potential food policies and food system innovations to achieve them.  
  3. Country-level engagement consultations to link the research conducted in the previous two components with the country's institutional environment, stakeholders, and national food systems dialogues. Four rounds of consultations will encompass a variety of stakeholders, from domestic actors to international donors. The consultations are designed to encourage feedback on the project and develop joint ownership of the recommendations with national stakeholders to maximize the use of the findings. 

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Commission through the GIZ-implemented projects Knowledge for Nutrition (K4N) and Agricultural Policy and Food and Nutrition Security. The project was designed as a contribution to and to build upon the progress made at the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.


Achieving Sustainable Food Systems in a Global Crisis: Summary Report

Our summary report outlines how public interventions in all three countries could help end hunger, make diets healthier and more affordable, and improve small-scale producers' livelihoods in climate-friendly ways. 


Project details

Food and Agriculture
Focus area